Washington - Feb 6, 2012 - The National Association of Broadcasters will award the Spirit of Broadcasting Award to The Second City during the 2012 NAB Show. The Second City's Co-Chairman, CEO and Executive Producer Andrew Alexander will accept the award at the NAB Show Television Luncheon on April 16.
Since its inception as the first improvisational theater troupe in the United States, The Second City has grown into a diversified entertainment company. With resident stages in Chicago and Toronto and U.S. and international touring ensembles, The Second City entertains more than 1,000,000 guests with its performances each year. In addition, The Second City runs the largest training center for improvisation and acting in the country, educating more than 13,000 students a year at schools in Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto.
In 1976, The Second City's Toronto theatre developed its own sketch comedy television series, "SCTV." Featuring a cast that included Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, Joe Flaherty and Rick Moranis, the show satirized a television station in the fictional city of Melonville and its attempts to produce local programming. Over the course of six seasons, SCTV garnered 13Emmy Award nominations and won two for best writing.
Throughout the years, many future television stars got their start performing with The Second City, including Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Peter Boyle, John and Jim Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, George Wendt, Shelley Long, Richard Kind, Bonnie Hunt, Dan Castellaneta, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Amy Sedaris, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Jack McBrayer and Jason Sudeikis.
The Second City was started in a cabaret theater in Chicago in 1959 by Howard Alk, Bernie Sahlins and Paul Sills, son of acting teacher Viola Spolin. The Second City uses improvisation techniques pioneered by Spolin to create a unique way of developing and performing sketch comedy.
Andrew Alexander first took the helm of The Second City in Toronto in 1974, before partnering with Len Stuart to become owners of Chicago's Second City in 1985. Alexander is also currently opening a new club, UP Comedy Club in Chicago, which is one of the country's first hybrid comedy venues featuring stand-up, sketch, improvisational and family programming.
The Spirit of Broadcasting Award recognizes general excellence and leadership and is given to individuals or organizations that have made lasting contributions to over-the-air broadcasting. Previous recipients include Hubbard Broadcasting founder Stanley E. Hubbard, telecommunications reporter Dawson "Tack" Nail, American Women in Radio and Television, "60 Minutes" creator and executive producer Don Hewitt, and Hispanic broadcasting pioneers Emilio Nicolas Sr. and Raoul A. Cortez.